James Bond was created many years ago and has always been played on screen by men. We live now in a world where women demand equality, and rightly. But does that mean they should take over a role that was never written for them in the first place?
Take the recent Netflix film Enola Holmes, adapted from the books by Nancy Springer. Without the Holmes surname, who is Enola? Her whole USP is that she’s the sister of Sherlock, and thus effectively a female version of fiction’s greatest male detective.
Now take Ghostbusters. The original 1984 movie is a classic, driven by the performances of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. So when I first saw the trailer for the 2016 version, starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, I didn’t know what to think. Yes, those four are all funny and great actors… but why? Why can’t we have new characters for women? Why can’t we create our own stories, instead of standing on the shoulders of our male predecessors?
Did we need Lucy Liu playing Joan Watson in Elementary? Did we need a Men In Black reboot with one of the ‘men’ played by a woman? And one of the biggest and perhaps most controversial questions of them all: did we need a female-led Doctor Who? I love Jodie Whittaker’s performance as The Doctor, but we have to ask ourselves, why did we need her? What was so wrong with having a man as The Doctor?
Bond producer and custodian Barbara Broccoli puts it so brilliantly: “Women are fascinating and interesting and should get their own stories… I’m not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it.”
In other words, contrary to rumours that have been circulating ever since it was announced that No Time To Die would mark the end of Daniel Craig’s tenure, Bond will stay male. But we will have a new 00 agent in the form of Lashana Lynch’s Nomi.
The debates around iconic characters like James Bond and The Doctor can be complex. But the issue here is simple. Women – real and fictional – should be able to stand on their own without a famous man as a reference.
Female empowerment and equality are vital – and so is the need for more original female characters. Or is it just me?